Sean Weatherspoon (2006-09)
Look up "Vocal Leader" in the dictionary, and you'll find a picture of Sean Weatherspoon, probably with his mouth open. A three-year starter with enough personality for an entire linebacking corps, Sean Weatherspoon was fast, athletic and dominant.
His punishing hits and the "SPOOOOOOOOOON" response they earned from the crowd will always be remembered, but that isn't what made Sean Weatherspoon so important and notable. Under Gary Pinkel, Missouri has possessed an uncanny ability to develop not only stars, but good people with bright, enjoyable personalities, who represent Mizzou with total class off the field. It is one thing to win with what seem like hired guns, guys who don't really let you get to know them and are just there to put together a good NFL Draft highlight film. It's another to do so with guys who love their university and love giving their fans a chance to get to know them. The culture Pinkel has created here is both wonderful and easy to take for granted, and SPOOOOOOOON did more to develop and refine that culture than any other Tiger.
Oh yeah, and his stats were great too. After special teams and scrub duty on the 2006 team, 'Spoon stepped into a starting role in 2007 and became one of the faces of Mizzou's best defenses in 20 years.
2007: 103.5 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss/sacks (outstanding for a 4-3 linebacker), two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, eight passes broken up.
2008: 115.5 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss/sacks (!!!), three interceptions, two forced fumbles, seven passes broken up.
2009: 92.0 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss/sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, two passes broken up.
Sean Weatherspoon was simultaneously a defensive end and a safety, capable of both getting his hands on passes in coverage and launching an all-out assault on the line of scrimmage. His personality would have made him memorable even if he were just making 30 tackles per year. That he was a statistical monster made it all the better.
And that he stayed for all four seasons at Missouri, even despite the incredible amount of talent leaving the program after 2008, made him even more likable, if that were possible. He was the heart, soul and face of a program that has reached a rare level of sustainable success, and he now assumes his rightful place on The Wall.